Flushing, NY – The Mets knew a 13-game stretch with the NL elite Dodgers and Giants could determine their post season chances. Thursday night at Citi Field, the Giants put an end to the gauntlet and got the 3-2 win.
So the Mets have lost 18 of their last 24 games and are a season-high 7-½ games out of first place in the NL East. If there is any hope to get back in this race the next 15 games with the Nationals and Marlins will be the deciding factor.
The Mets after these 13-games went 2-11. But it is obvious they were exposed and can’t beat the elite teams. Seven of those losses were determined by a run and saw a continued season issue of leaving runners on base.
Through it all, manager Luis Rojas remained optimistic. He said it has been a tough stretch but his team battled. Rojas said his team was resilient and had better approaches with their at bats.
“ A lot more conviction swinging out there,” Rojas said prior to the final of this stretch. “ Our guys have progressed. I have seen better swings. The homers, the rallies lead to runs.”
But it was not enough runs. On the other hand, the Giants with the best record in baseball, 83-44, take their hacks and are 72-5 after eight-innings and that separates the elite from the rest of the league.
“They took hacks, something we been lacking,” Rojas said. “Been a tough stretch because of the result but we battled against these two teams. Thought we would win more games than this. Could have gone the other way too. It is disappointing.”
In the end, as Rojas said, the Mets did not get the results. The Giants swept three games in New York as did the Dodgers. The Mets managed to get a win in San Francisco and had a dominant 7-2 win at Dodger Stadium that led to some optimism.
Thursday night, Carlos Carrasco had his best outing and kept the Giants in check allowing two runs over seven innings. He retired seven consecutive Giants after allowing a first inning two-run home run to Kris Bryant.
Carrasco had allowed 13 runs in his previous three starts.
“He was lights out tonight,” said Rojas. “His fastball velocity spiked up to 96 so I thought that did a lot. Even the slider that Bryant hit for a homer, that was a really hard slider. Overall, you take that away, it was just a lights-out outing. It was the Carlos Carrasco that we know and that we expect to show every time he gets the ball.”
“This is the way I want it to be,” Carrasco said” He said the Bryant home run was a really bad pitch. Then again, you can’t throw home run balls to the MLB leading Giants that have hit 193 of them to all fields.
Pete Alonso, 2019 Latino Sports NL Rookie of the Year recipient, hit his team-leading 29th home run, a two-run shot off the Citi Field restaurant windows beyond the left field foul pole. The Mets are 25-24 in one-run games.
Yet, after this stretch and with 35 games remaining, Alonso remains optimistic that the Mets will still be playing meaningful baseball in the final five weeks of the season. He said they were close to winning many of the games that did not go their way.
“I honestly think we were right there with them,” he said. “We played every ballgame tooth-and-nail and fought extremely hard and it’s just one hit, one pitch away.”
But one pitch and one hit away are the difference if you want to win games when opposing the NL leading Giants and Dodgers and that has been a constant issue for the Mets. More so, since the All-Star break they are batting .205 with RISP. The Mets went 1-for-5 and left 9 on base Thursday night, and the night before went 2-for-8. That is not hitting with more conviction as Rojas claimed during this stretch of games.
Francisco Lindor has not been a factor since returning from the injured list, 1-for-5 and two strikeouts, 2-for 13 since returning to the lineup Tuesday night after missing five weeks with an oblique strain, and he was supposed to be a boost to the Mets lineup this week.
So two of the bottom teams in the division, the Nationals and Marlins await the Mets and the only optimism about getting back in the division race is winning a majority of those ball games. The next five games for the Braves are with the Giants and Braves.
But the difference here is obvious and this stretch that concluded showed how the Mets were exposed to the elite teams.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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